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Swimming Pool Plumbing Basics

Your swimming pool contains far less complicated plumbing than you think. Swimming pool plumbing basics don’t require an engineering degree, and can be easily understood by anyone. First of all, your pool will be less complicated if it is simply a stand alone pool and doesn’t have a spa or hot tub attached. All pools however, have common features, regardless of the size.


Your swimming pool plumbing basics start with the most essential piece of pool equipment – a way to circulate the water – also known as a pool pump. Realize that were it not for your pool pump, you wouldn’t even have pool plumbing. You’d also have an algae filled cesspool but that’s a different story. Your pool pump is mounted external to the pool, and pumps water in a circuit. The path the water takes is a simple one: The water is first sucked in by the pool pump from either an underwater suction point or a skimmer – or both. These are two separate suction points, and they’re separate for a reason.


The skimmer is a very specialized form of suction for a reason – it sucks water from the very surface of the pool. The goal of a skimmer is to suck water, and thus debris on the surface, into a basket for easy collection. The skimmer is not a stand alone suction device, since if all you had was a skimmer, the pool’s water wouldn’t circulate very efficiently if at all. On the other hand, the pool’s underwater suction port serves an entirely different purpose. Here, chemicals and pool water usually at the deepest end of the pool are sucked directly into the pool pump for a trip through the filters. Conversely, the underwater suction port isn’t very efficient at sucking surface debris, so both suction points work in tandem to provide a pool the circulation it needs to stay clean.


Swimming pool plumbing basics also include the filtration system. After water is culled from the underwater pool suction port and the skimmer, it travels through the filters. Pool filters are a diverse collection of cartridge filters or diatomaceous earth, as well as many other types. Essentially, they take in unfiltered water and output clean water free of sediment or debris. This primary circuit of filtration is essentially the backbone of a pool’s basic plumbing system and this basic framework is extant in all modern pools.


Besides filtration, there are further plumbing systems in a pool, but they are essentially frills, in that you don’t specifically need them but they do make life easier. One of the first additional plumbing systems that come to mind is a fill system. Sure, you can fill any pool with a hose but that’s an inelegant way to do it. A fill system is simply city water plumbed into an input line into the pool.


Swimming pool plumbing basics wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate pool luxury – heat. A heated pool increases the enjoyment of the water and actually makes you want to use the water more. A pool heating circuit simply piggybacks on the filtration system, and ties into it at key points to inject its heated water into the system.


Lastly, a common pool plumbing accessory is a backwash or sewer drain connection. When draining a pool for maintenance or backwashing a diatomaceous earth filter, that dirty water must go somewhere. Sure, you can use a sump pump to drain a pool or you can plumb the drain into the sewer system and drain your pool painlessly. Swimming pool plumbing basics are just that – basic, and easy to understand.

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